Presenting ShortJournal at MinneDemo


Last week Thursday, May 7 I had the pleasure of presenting a piece of software I've been working on called ShortJournal at MinneDemo. MinneDemo is the "Twin Cities' premier technology demo and networking event," and I "came for the demo" but "stayed for the beer." It's true, I did. I'm quoting the site, not being sarcastic. I met a lot of interesting people and had a great time. In the beginning of this video you'll find me briefly blathering on about what ShortJournal is (right after Extendr):

Right, so anyway… ShortJournal is a tool I made for myself to solve a specific problem I was having: I had umpteen million notes and ideas that I was either putting into text files or emailing to myself or writing on scraps of paper. Searching for a specific note or idea was totally brutal, and that's if I even had the right file with me on the particular computer that I was on. It sucked.

So I made ShortJournal for storing and organizing my notes — any little bits of text. It's a development journal and an everything bucket, and I use it to store code snippets, how-to's, bookmarks, project ideas, notes to self, to-do lists, and anything else I want to remember. Any bit of text can be tagged and stored away in ShortJournal, and then retrieved from anywhere on any computer or phone with web access.

Other products that solve this problem such as EverNote or BackPack certainly have a lot going for them, and I know ShortJournal won't be for everyone. Really, personally, it just came down to me not being comfortable with the idea of a third party having access to all of my notes and ideas, and then also being dependent on that service and their uptime to access my data.

That's the key way that ShortJournal is different. It is a simple service that you can run on any machine with Apache-MySQL-PHP. From that machine you can access your notes anywhere via the web, and then ShortJournal itself also has a [currently very rough] REST API so that you can write any kind of client (in any language) for ShortJournal that you'd want. I made a nice simple little command line client for those shell users like me out there. I've got it plugged into my TextMate. Somebody could certainly make a desktop app, a native iphone app, or a better web client with the API... at least that's the concept.

I'm already using ShortJournal heavily on a daily basis with great success. It solved the problem that I had. I've got a couple other people testing it out for their own needs. Right now I'm looking for more alpha testers. If you want to try out ShortJournal, you just need to get ahold of me via email or my contact form, or Twitter is fine, too.

Eventually I think this project is bound to end up as open source so that people can extend it as they need. I wouldn't hold your breath for a glossy boxed product. ShortJournal really is targeted for developers, not casual computer users. It is the first in a line up of several other tools and libraries I've been using over the years to optimize my development environment, all of which I intend to share the source of "some day soon." More information can be found on

Oh, and speaking of the target audience here being developers, you may enjoy this wildly inaccurate review of ShortJournal from one of the MinneDemo attendees.